The Best Road Trip in Slovenia – Julian Alps, Soča Valley and Tolmin Gorge

by shortgirlontour

When I first wanted to visit Slovenia, I was just thinking of Lake Bled and Ljubljana. Little did I know about this road trip that turned out to be the highlight of my visit to Slovenia! From the country’s highest mountain pass to one of its most stunning valleys, this road trip is an absolute must do when in Slovenia. This trip can be divided into three parts. The first is the Julian Alps part where you will drive up and then down the Vršič pass driving through 50 (yes 50!) switchbacks or hairpin bends. The second part is the Soča River Valley part where you will be greeted with some jaw dropping scenery. The third part is a visit to Tolmin Gorge. This post covers all you need to know and what to expect on the best road trip in Slovenia.

High-level Information

  • This road trip will probably take you a full day
  • If you want to do activities along the way (i.e., hiking in the Julian Alps or white water rafting in the Soča river ), then you may want to consider an overnight stay along the way
  • The Vršič pass is open April to October and is usually closed in the winter and during inclement weather in the Spring and Fall
    • Click here to check if it’s open
  • You need to get to Kranjska Gora, in order to start this road trip as I’ve laid it out
    • It’s about 30 minutes to Kranjska Gora from Bled and 1 hour from Ljubljana
    • Given the above where you spend your previous night is important
    • If you are visiting Bled, my recommendation is to make this your next destination
  • You can also do this road trip in reverse
  • If you are planning on white water rafting in the Soča river, call ahead to check the water levels and to make reservations

Part 1 – Vršič Pass

Start this road trip from Kranjska Gora and follow signs for Vršič. After a few minutes you will enter Triglav National Park and come to the start of the pass. Never did I feel unsafe driving up or down the pass. Just go slow and stick to your side of the road especially when you are taking the bend. The one other thing to watch out for are cyclists who take on the challenge up cycling up Slovenia’s highest mountain pass!

First glimpse
The Best Road Trip in Slovenia
I passed this beautiful valley on the way

There are 24 hairpins bends going up and 26 coming down. Each bend is numbered on a board that also shows the altitude. Some bends (before or after) have a place for you to stop over and enjoy the view or stretch your legs. Below are the most interesting ones or the ones with the best views!

The Best Road Trip in Slovenia
Hairpin and altitude is marked
The Best Road Trip in Slovenia
The Best Road Trip in Slovenia
The Best Road Trip in Slovenia

#8 – Russian Orthodox Chapel

Park your car on the right just after you take the bend and walk down the hill slightly to the steps on the left (right when you are walking down). This mountain pass was built by Russian POWs during WWI. In 1916 a huge avalanche killed hundreds of these workers and this chapel was built where they found the last casualty.

The Best Road Trip in Slovenia

#9 – Koča na Gozdu

I just really liked the view of this hotel in the foreground with the mountains in the background! It’s not officially a place people consider a stop but I liked the view! (parking is available)

The Best Road Trip in Slovenia

#16 – Grassy Meadows

Again not official but there was parking here so I stopped and snapped some more pictures here as well.

The Best Road Trip in Slovenia
The Best Road Trip in Slovenia

#17 – The “window”

If you look high up on the cliff, you will see a natural “window” where the light can stream in.

#22 – Ajda

Another great spot to take it all in OR grab something to eat at the Erjavčeva koča restaurant. A more popular thing to do here is to try to spot the face of Adja on the rock face. Adja is a girl who is a part of a local legend. Apparently you need some imagination to see this face and mine failed me that day but hopefully yours won’t!

The Best Road Trip in Slovenia
The Best Road Trip in Slovenia
The Best Road Trip in Slovenia

#24 – Summit!

The summit is right after #24. At 5,285 feet this is the highest mountain pass in all of Slovenia! There’s a little hut on the right after the parking lot if you want to grab something to eat or drink or even get a souvenir (magnet) like I did.

The Best Road Trip in Slovenia
The Best Road Trip in Slovenia
At the summit
The Best Road Trip in Slovenia
There were still some patches of snow even in May

If you are doing good on time, you can hike to Poštarski dom from the summit.

Now it’s time to go down the pass, driving through another 26 hairpins. There were no noteworthy spots on the way down but the views are so beautiful and you can stop at a few to enjoy the view like I did.

The Best Road Trip in Slovenia
Beautiful views even on the way down
The Best Road Trip in Slovenia
The Best Road Trip in Slovenia
Example of a hairpin bend

Part 2 – Soča River Valley

Once you are towards the end of the last few hairpins, look for a sign to the town of Bovec. Pretty soon you will find yourself driving along side the Soča river. There are a lot of beautiful spots along this river to stop and admire. Especially all the suspension bridges! The first one is on the right hand side. It’s a small bridge but the views are stunning in both directions.

The Best Road Trip in Slovenia
The first suspension bridge

You pass a couple more bridges along that are also very scenic that I stopped at.

Kamp Korita and Kamp Jelinc

These are two camps close by to each other where you can walk along the river. The water is so blue here.

Velika Korita Soče

3 miles or 3 minutes down the road from the two camps above is Velika Korita Soče also known as the Grand Canyon of Soča. There is a small car park on the left had side. This area is said to be the most impressive part of the river valley and is 30-50 feet deep. You can cross the suspension bridge to the other side and hike down. Just a warning that the path can be narrow and uneven.

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This is a nice little town if you want to grab some lunch or depending on the time and/or if you are staying overnight do some white water rafting or zip lining. Check out the website of a reputed company with good reviews HERE

The town of Bovec

Part 3 – Tolmin Gorge

Tolmin Gorge is about about 45 minutes from Bovec on the southern end of Triglav National Park. The gorge is about 1km in length but there are a few steps. I didn’t find it challenging but did want to mention it nevertheless. Get a map from the ticket office. All the lookout points and the places of interest are very clearly marked on the map and is very easy to follow.

Congratulations! You completed one of the best road trips that you can do in Slovenia! After Tolmin you can continue to your next destination in Slovenia or cross the border to either Italy or Croatia (which is what I did!).

Driving in Slovenia

It’s super easy to drive around in Slovenia! The roads are amazing and the signage is great. However, you need to get a toll pass called a vignette or vinjeta. You an either get this at a gas station as soon as you cross the border to Slovenia (if you are driving across the border) or you can buy it online, which is what I did. It’s really easy and only takes a couple of minutes. All you need is a credit card and the license plate number of your vehicle. I bought the weekly pass for 15 euros as I was staying in Slovenia for a few days. You can also probably ask your rental car company if they offer it too (I rented in Croatia so I opted to get the e-vignette online). Click HERE or below for more!

Did you find this post useful? Please let me know by liking/commenting below or sharing this post on social media! Thank you!!

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Also visiting Ljubljana, Lake Bled and Lake Bohinj? Check out my travel guides, tips and recommendations HERE

I visited Slovenia as a part of a 12 day road trip around the Balkans! Check out this trip HERE or below!

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Welcome to my blog and thank you for visiting! Believe it or not this blog is not my full time job! I work 8-5 in Supply Chain and run this blog after work!  I’ve dreamed of traveling the world since I was a child and at 43 countries and counting, I am so grateful to get to live that dream.

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